Loans to Restaurants & Specialty Food Companies

Alberello Cafe

alberelloChef Brendan Cox and his wife, Leslie, have owned and operated Oakleaf, an upscale farm-to-table restaurant in Pittsboro, since they moved to North Carolina in 2011. Now they are opening an Italian cafe, with a menu also inspired by local, seasonal ingredients, just up the road in Briar Chapel. Alberello Cafe and Market is more casual than Oakleaf, with a dining and patio area as well as a retail market offering groceries and wine and beer.

Several Slow Money NC investors are helping Chef Cox move into his new space and purchase necessary equipment, including a Vespa delivery vehicle! The cafe has now opened to rave reviews!

Smoke Signals Bakery

Tara Jenson started Smoke Signals Bakery in 2012 after learning to bake at several institutions, including Red Hen Bakery in Vermont and Farm & Sparrow in Candler, NC. More than just a place that makes bread, Smoke Signals is a classroom for inspiring others to learn about the art of baking as well as empowering people to try new things. Tara holds workshops and community gatherings at her shop in Marshall where participants are encouraged to share life experiences and make connections with each other, all while learning about the creative and technical aspects of baking bread. Slow Money NC’s loan helped Tara buy bulk firewood for the oven, local flour, and other needed equipment to expand the bakery’s offerings. You can learn more about the bakery or sign up for a workshop here

Seal the Seasons

seal-the-seasons-packagePatrick Mateer discovered his passion for improving the local food system while a student at the University of North Carolina. He created Seal the Seasons to address the barriers in making locally-grown fruits and vegetables available to everyone, all throughout the year.

As a “Farm to Freezer” company, they buy local produce, flash freeze it, and sell it to retailers, where customers can purchase their products year-round. Slow Money NC lenders helped them with several loans, as well as equity investments, to buy more produce from local farms, and other start-up and expansion costs. You can find Seal the Season’s frozen fruits and vegetables at Weaver Street, Harris Teeter, Lowes Foods, and several other co-ops.

New American Stone Mills

As a baker, miller, and owner at Boulted Bread (a previous Slow Money NC loan recipient), Fulton Forde knows what attributes bakers want in a grain mill. Having seen many mills with shortcomings that left people disappointed, Fulton decided to try building his own.

\After years of investigating mill designs across North America, he came up with a winner. His dream was to build highest quality stone mills that small bakeries could afford, which would have the additional effect of expanding local grain economies. With Slow Money NC’s help, Fulton was able to secure a loan to build his first three mills, as well as capital for other basic business expenses. With those mills now operational, Fulton is well on the way to realizing that dream.

Premier Cakes

premier-cakes-2Tracy and Bobby Outlaw started out baking only cakes at their Raleigh bakery, but have since expanded to pies, puddings, tiramisu, and more. Tracy Outlaw had always been a baker, sharing her sweet cakes with friends and family, but her baking really took off after she was laid off from her accounting job in 2009, while Bobby’s engineering experience was put to work to design new recipes.

After leasing space in a restaurant for a year and a half, the Outlaws secured their own retail space in 2014. Slow Money NC loans helped them move into this new store, purchase a new oven and additional equipment, and produce a much larger volume of baked goods and meet the growing demand for their delicious offerings. Check out Premier Cakes’ website for more information. 

5th Sun

Michael and Adrienne Henzel named their new chips, hot sauce, and salsa company in honor of their five sons. In 2012, the Henzels relocated to Asheville from Vermont, where they had run a Mexican restaurant, among other food ventures. They loved the unique and spicy flavors they had developed there, so the Henzels started 5th Sun in their new home. Their products were a hit, but they needed to expand the business in order to meet demand. Slow Money NC helped them get the money to finance new equipment and improve their marketing. Unfortunately, their business did not succeed, and 5th Sun is no longer operational.

Sourwood Brewing

Deniz Chen wanted to make crisp, European-style dry ciders. He first discovered his love for cider-making by accident, when an opened container of apple juice fermented in his refrigerator. He has been experimenting with new flavors and methods of cider creation ever since, aided by his background in biotech research. Deniz was also committed to sourcing all of his apple juice locally, so Slow Money NC was happy to help him get a loan to purchase over 4,000 gallons of juice from farmers in the North Carolina mountains. After a couple of seasons (and after paying his Slow Money loans), Deniz closed his cider business, at least for now.

Naked Pig

Jenny and Shawn Hatley were looking for a source for meat for their family that was raised like their grandparents did it, meaning from healthy animals that were raised outside with no antibiotics and hormones. Finding themselves dissatisfied with the available options, the Hatleys decided to start a meat operation themselves, and Naked Pig Meat Co. was created. A Slow Money NC lender helped them with the costs expand their business and get their products out to more customers.

Honeysuckle Tea House

Tim and Megan Toben have been in the business of building a more resilient food economy in North Carolina for a long time. As founders of the Pickards Mountain Eco-Institute, they are dedicated to teaching sustainable practices like permaculture, beekeeping, fermentation, and foraging. The Tobens wanted to expand their mission through a new venture. The Honeysuckle Tea House, which opened in 2014, is a place to gather and partake in traditional medicine through herbal teas, tinctures, and other local products. Numerous Slow Money NC lenders came together to help them raise over 100k from their community to make the Tea House possible.

Fair Game Beverage Company

In the Spring of 20fair game13, The Fair Game Beverage Company began with the aim of producing delicious spirits from locally-sourced ingredients: be that Haw River Valley grapes or house-grown Sorghum. The result, thus far, has been four distinctive and tempting libations:  Ferris Red Dessert Wine, Two Step White Dessert Wine, Tipper Apple Cordial, and Tipper Scuppernong Cordial.

Following the time-honored fortification process, Fair Game Beverage had lined the Pittsboro distillery with oak barrels, but they needed some capital to get their delicious products into bottles ready for sale to consumers. Thankfully, SlowMoney lenders came through, and North Carolina is a better place because of it!  You simply must come out to the industrial plant on Lorax Lane and taste what they have to offer. (And, be sure to visit Screech Owl Greenhouse and The Abundance Foundation while you are there!)


In March of 2013, with the help of family and friends (and credit cards), Kim Hukimbapnter opened Kimbap, bringing local food and a taste of Kimchi to downtown Raleigh.  Of course, as a farm-to-table, Korean-inspired restaurant, all of Kimbap’s offerings were delicious; however,  Kim believed that some additional improvements to the restaurant space would appeal to her customers.

A  loan from SlowMoney lenders supported Kimbap’s commitment to local food. At Kimbap, you can enjoy  produce from local farms like Fickle Creek, Coon Rock and Raleigh City Farm, as well as meat and seafood—100% of which comes from local, sustainable sources—in beautiful surroundings.  Can’t wait to see you there!

Boulted Bread in Raleigh

SaIMG_0232m Kirkpatrick and Fulton Forde’s experience in the food industry inspired them, along with Joshua Bellamy, to form Boulted Bread–producing bread, pastry, coffee, and fresh milled goods that enrich the community through sustainable business practices. From the start, they hoped to share their belief in the inherent value, sublime flavors, and simple elegance of bread as craft. That work is contributing to local sustainable food systems by reinvigorating and creating a southern food culture that is based on the use of heirloom and landrace grains.

To use these grains, however, Boulted Bread needed funding to build a fully custom grain mill from stone quarried in Salisbury, NC. This mill is part of a new paradigm as it is one of only a handful of such mills in the US, and because it allows for the expanded use of heirloom varieties of Southern grains.  And, ooooh, what delicious bread they make!!

Piemonte Cheese in Burlington

Argentinian farmers Fabian Lujan and Sandra Sarlinga founded The Piemonte Farm (formerly The Fairy Farm) in 2005; then, after obtaining his North Carolina Cheesemaking License in 2013, Fabian started making aged artisan cheeses aPiemonte insidend Piemonte Cheese was born.  Each year, they make about 4,000 pounds of Manchego Style, Italian Style, Blue Cheese, and an old fashioned American farm cheese called Old Glencoe from raw cow’s milk.

These artisanal cheeses goes beyond the rennet and the cultures: they also contribute to the local food movement by keeping cows grazing in the pastures, grasses growing in the fields, dairy farmers farming intact farmland and keeping the knowledge from rural communities alive for one more generation. So, SlowMoney lenders jumped at the chance to fund a cheese cave that would allow Piemonte Cheese to expand its operations!

The Veggie Wagon on the Coast

April and Max Sussman started with a simple idea: to bring a small local produce stand to Carolina Beach—they’d buy produce from local farmers’ markets and bring it back to the island. Today, this little idea has blossomed into a full-fledged produce company offering over 100 items—all produced in store with local produce and dairy! And, April’s inventiveness in the kitchen means that farmers still make a profit when she turns their excess product into delicious baked goods, jellies or pickles!

The Veggie Wagon has been featureVeggie Wagond in Our State Magazine, the Star News, Devour, and others, and received a prestigious grant from RAFI. And, just last year, Whole Foods began carrying their pickles and local honey hot sauce. A Slow Money loan meant The Veggie Wagon could purchase a large steam kettle to meet Whole Foods’ requests for their local salsa and salad dressings!

Veronica Henry in Chapel Hill

Veronica Henry is a classically trained chef whose twenty years of food industry experience, both in Europe and across the US, prepared her to start a Catering and Event Planning Business. With the help of a SlowMoney loan, Veronica has been able to use her culinary talents and locally sourced ingredients to service the Chapel Hill area with the best Jamaican food this side of Miami!

Nut Butters in Durham

When Big Spoon Roasters had maxed out the capacity of their production facility and need to move to a bigger space with more equipment, they turned to their loyal customers, their friends, for help. In the summer of 2013, Mark Overbay and Big Spoon received several Slow Money loans to help them expand in to a larger facility in Durham to meet the growing demand for their products. If you haven’t tried their amazing, hand-crafted nut butters yet, you’re missing out!

A Farm-to-Table Cafe in Siler City

Thanks to Slow Money NC loans, and the passion and hard work of Nichol Price, Jacquey, and a host of friends and fans, Siler City now has a delightful ‘Farm to Fork’ breakfast and lunch cafe – Succotashed! Nichol is serving food made from the abundance of local meats and produce grown in the area. They needed to purchase equipment to upfit their space, and several Slow Money lenders stepped up & helped. We are ecstatic to have Succotashed here in Chatham County!

That’s a fresh tomato soup Nichol is serving up, that we enjoyed with fresh local peaches on local lettuce, and local chicken salad, etc etc. All so delicious!

A Butcher Shop & Bakery in Durham

In the summer of 2013, Justin and Katie realized their dream of opening a combination butcher & pastry shop in downtown Durham. This extremely talented husband and wife team have committed to serving fresh, locally sourced ingredients that have been raised sustainably – whether it’s pasture raised beef in the meat case or organic fruit in a pie.

Slow Money NC was excited to help them make this shop a reality, and we’re even more excited to eat their delicious wares. Visit Rose’s at 112 N. Gregson St. in Durham soon!

Local Tempeh in Asheville

WholefoodsVendorProfile_Smiling HaraShortly after getting laid off from her job as a secretary, something fortuitous happened in the life of Sarah Yancey – she had her first taste of fresh, handcrafted, unpasteurized tempeh. Yancey was hooked after the first bite, and thus Smiling Hara was born. Soon she was making thousands of pounds of tempeh per year out of the Blue Ridge Food Ventures kitchen and selling it to local restaurants and natural foods stores. Smiling Hara came to Slow Money NC in the fall of 2012, looking for help to expand their production so that they could retail their fresh tempeh in more locations (including Whole Foods stores) around the state.

An Italian Eatery in Pittsboro

Donna BiancoAfter decades as a teacher, Donna Bianco was looking for a different way to make a difference in her community. Growing up in an Italian-American family, Donna had always been an avid cook and loved how good food had the power to bring people together. She opened Bella Donna’s Italian Restaurant in 2007, which quickly became a local favorite. Her space was small, however, and when the opportunity arose to purchase a building down the road (which was formerly a Pizza Hut) she jumped on it. This was a big project, however, and Donna needed all the help that she could get from her community. Donna was able to utilize a variety of resources, including Slow Money loans, to finance the purchase of their new building and renovations. Bella Donna’s plans to reopen in their new space in Spring 2013.

Cookies in the Mountains

zuma cookiesZuma Cookie Company’s owner, Joel Friedman, came to us in the summer of 2012 looking for help to expand their capacity for wholesale production. Based 20 miles outside of Asheville in Marshall, NC, Zuma  offers fresh baked and frozen take-and-bake Zuma Gold cookies made with fresh, all natural ingredients. Previously housed in the Zuma Coffee Shop, they wanted to lease a new space and purchase additional equipment so that they could expand to new wholesale and retail outlets around western NC and throughout the southeast. Look for them in your local Ingles and Earth Fare stores!

Sustainable Sushi in Wilmington

Tamashii Wilmington TeamIn the summer of 2012, chef Mark Scharage opened North Carolina’s (and currently the east coast’s) first sustainable sushi restaurant and spoon bar in Wilmington. Focusing on line caught and mostly local seafood, along with regional and local produce, Tamashii‘s food is both inviting and delicious. The spoon bar features tasting size portions presented on a spoon including ceviche, poke, sushi, sashimi, and tartare. Moreover, aside from featuring farm-to-table and sustainable products, the entire restaurant will be eco-friendly with metal chopsticks, bio-degradable take out containers, use of glass containers for sauce storage versus plastics, recycling of used oil, and furniture made from recycled materials. As chef Scharaga says, he wants to start a sushi revolution in North Carolina – the sustainable sushi revolution – and Slow Money NC is thrilled to be involved!

A Meadery in Pittsboro

Starrlight MeadAfter years of making mead in their home and winning awards for their creations, Ben & Becky Starr opened a commercial meadery in Pittsboro’s Chatham Mills complex. They had no idea, however, just how popular their Starrlight Meads would be! Ben & Becky came to Slow Money NC in 2012 looking for funding to increase their production capacity. Two local lenders provided them with the capital they needed to purchase more ingredients (like local honey), bottles, and additional equipment so that they could expand their wholesale distribution and make sure they never again run out of mead to sell. You can find their delicious beverages at their location in Pittsboro, and in several beer and wine stores around the state.

A Coffee Shop in Durham

Leon, Areli, and a staffer behind the bar of their new shop.

Leon and Areli are a young couple with a self-declared obsession with coffee, chocolate, and tea. For the past year, they have been working to translate the success of their mobile unit, bikeCOFFEE, into a brick-and-mortar location from which they can showcase their wares. Cocoa Cinnamon has recently opened in downtown Durham, and Areli and Leon couldn’t be happier. This was made possible through community support from a variety of sources, including a successful Kickstarter campaign and Slow Money loans from a number of local lenders. Congrats!

Honey Liqueur in Durham

When Rim Vilgalys and his brother first started making Krupnikas, a Lithuanian spiced honey liqueur, they never dreamed it would be so popular.

KrupnikasThe story really begins and ends with what’s inside the bottle. Their recipe uses whole spices, North Carolina wildflower honey, and pure neutral grain spirits. The final product is 80 proof, or 40% ABV and has a delicious and complex flavor that appeals to almost anyone. As they say on their website,  ”It’s strong, sweet, spicy, and smooth. It can make a black bear hibernate in early July. It can turn a bandit into a poet. It can even warm your cold, dark, cynical heart and make you happy those kids are tearing up your lawn on their dirt bikes.” Put simply, this is an absolutely delicious drink, which nobody is currently offering to US consumers.

After securing their start up funds with help from Slow Money lenders, finding a space, and receiving the myriad of permits necessary to produce spirits, The Brothers Vilgalys‘ Krupnikas is now in ABC stores and bars around central NC.

A Deck in Durham

Owners Frank and Mo Ferrell (and grandchild) at their patio opening party.

Ninth Street Bakery  in downtown Durham was one of the very first bakeries in NC to use organic flour from Lindley’s mill to produce European pastries like croissants and danishes. Now they have started brewing their own version of the fermented drink kombucha, that they call ‘Bull City Booch.’ It is available on tap, along with several beer choices and and hard apple cider, and it’s delicious! The cafe area is being expanded and they just installed a beautiful bar, made with red cedar from trees off of the owner’s land in Orange County.  They are expanding their hours to be open till 8:00 or 9:00 PM, with an after hours menu to go along with the alcoholic beverages. Bluegrass and old timey music, open mics and more evening events are planned.  Several Slow Money loans helped cover the cost of building their handsome new deck, to expand their seating capacity and provide a venue for music and arts events.

A Bakery in Sanford

Mykal Harp makes amazing cupcakes.  A recent transplant to NC, she started Dandalia Bakery, producing cakes, cookies, brownies, and her signature cupcakes from her Sanford, North Carolina home.  She quickly outgrew that space and will soon move to a retail spot downtown. And she found the perfect industrial oven for her new kitchen, Abi’s oven (scroll down to Our sixth loan.)  Having received a Slow Money loan to purchase this oven a year ago, it seemed only fitting to Abi that she make a loan to Mykal. Abi went from Slow Money borrower to Slow Money lender, Mykal got a nearly new industrial oven and a new friend.

Mykal and her husband are delighted to have signed the lease to open a store front at 1907 Bragg St (and Horner) in the Stadium Center Strip Mall in Sanford, NC.  Soon fresh baked goods and coffee will be available EVERY DAY at her new Dandalia Bakery & Coffee House!!   Maybe we can commission a special Slow Money NC cupcake!

A Produce Truck in Chapel Hill

Part of rebuilding our local food economy requires moving that food around. LaTarndra Strong, owner of Allen Transportation in Chapel Hill knows about trucking. With the help of Slow Money NC she is purchasing a refrigerated trailer to transport produce and other food products throughout Central and Eastern NC. This will give small to medium sized local, sustainable farmers access to local markets that have traditionally been difficult to target.  It’s a win/win for all. LaTarndra can grow her company responsibly and farmers can focus on what they do best – farming – knowing they have a reliable transportation partner.  The businesses on the receiving end can now have easier access to locally produced food.  And us eaters?

We get more fresh, local food – rather than faraway food aged by a lengthy shipping process. Watch for the grand opening of our Slow Money NC carrier serving Central and Eastern North Carolina’s local sustainable food producers.

Local Honey in Raleigh

Bees have always fascinated Alice. In the spring of 2010 she set up her first two beehives at her home garden in Raleigh and helped establish two more hives on the rooftop of a local restaurant.  Last May she harvested her first batch of honey. It wasn’t until she had 80 pounds of honey sitting in buckets on her kitchen counter that she realized she had a business in the making – selling honey. Girl Honey is pure, raw, local, small batch craft honey sold locally at the Saturday Market at Rebus Works and by word of mouth to restaurants and individuals. 10% of honey sales are donated to the Beehive Collective, a Raleigh group that raises money for local non-profits.

In October, 2011, Alice heard Carol Hewitt give a presentation about Slow Money NC atCentral Park NC’s Annual Gathering. Later, waiting in the beer line with local musician,Greg Humphreys and Carol’s mutual friend Jane Norton, creator of Our Community Green, they got to talking about bees, and a possible Slow Money loan to increase her honey business.  Jane promptly volunteered to be her lender.

Alice worked out a business plan to increase her hives from the four she currently has to a full-fledged apiary, pollinator garden and honey business with thirty hives over the next two years. With her Slow Money loan, Alice can make lots of Girl Honey, using biodynamic beekeeping practices to raise the healthiest and happiest bees possible and offer the purest honey available. This may be our sweetest Slow Money NC loan yet.

Homemade Soups in Southern Pines

There is a special spot in downtown Southern Pines called Lula’s Cafe, and her specialty is soups. Roasted red pepper, portabello mushroom, carrot ginger. They are all good. In fact they are so popular, Lula now extra to package and freeze so her customers can take them home in quantity. And she is building her wholesale accounts.

Which that packaging, labeling, and a website come costs – and that’s where Slow Money was able to help. It wasn’t a big loan, but was enough to boost her take-out business and get her inventory up to supply the new wholesale business.  Do you want Lula’s soups carried in a shop in your town? If it’s not too far away, you may be in luck. And if you’re in Southern Pines, you can get buy them freshand add a sandwich and salad as well!

Local Flour in Asheville

Jennifer came to one of very first Slow Money NC meetings in Pittsboro in 2010, all the way to from Asheville, several hours west.  She had owned and operated her a bakery for 14 years, but now wanted to do something unique in the state. She wanted to mill local flours that you could trace right back to the individual farms, to produce “fresh, stone ground, whole grain and sifted flour– a flour whose vibrancy and quality will be recognizably local. For lovers of good bread, this means even better bread, and for the farmer and baker, it will mean a tangible level of security and sustainability.” We loved the idea and wanted to help her right away, but we were hardly getting started matching folks to lenders in our own area of NC, Chatham County.  We offered to do whatever we could to be helpful, and we stayed in touch. She sent long emails, which evolved into a lovely newsletter, and we felt confident that, as difficult as it was, she was going to succeed. Given her timeline, we hoped to be ready with enough Slow Money followers in her area to at least fund the last several thousand dollars that she might need to get open in late 2011.

She pushed on, and “Carolina Ground, L3C,”  was formalized. Jennifer and her group of bakeries “working to close the distance between the farmer, miller, and baker in the Carolinas through reviving the community mill,”  had a location, equipment and grain ready to mill. She was just 15k short of turning on the switches. Now it was our turn.

In the last week of October, 2011, Carol traveled to Hendersonville and Asheville to speak to several groups interested in locavesting and local foods. And she asked for help for Carolina Ground.  The response was overwhelming, and within days Jennifer had the last $15,000 she needed. She wrote about us in her blog. After jumping a few more high hurdles, the grinding began.  This is an impressive beginning for the emerging mountain region of Slow Money NC!

A Bakery in Apex

Jackie initially called Slow Money NC to talk about her plans to open a bakery. She was looking for 40K and at the time that was way out of our league. A few months later she called again. Jackie had tracked down that 40K, and started “Sweet Cheeks, Heavenly Baked Goods.”  She was selling her cakes to Whole Foods, brownies to Ben & Jerry’s, and had built a strong following of loyal customers.  And she had outgrown her 26 quart mixer and needed a bigger one, and had found a used 80 gallon Hobart mixer in Florida at a great price.

This was our first loan request in Wake County, and we had a lender from Raleigh ready and waiting to make a Slow Money loan. It covered the mixer and the shipping.  Jackie is back filling orders for Southern Pecan Pie with Bourbon Vanilla, Classic Butter Pound Cake, Old Fashioned Buttermilk Pie, Sweet Potato Pie, Red Velvet Cake and much more.  And Sweet Cheeks Bakery has a storefront in Apex where she retails her cakes, pies and cookies, and serve coffee and donuts as well.  Go check it out! Everybody deserves a fabulous birthday cake – even you!

A Produce Stand in Tarboro

Aaron Carpenter has been selling produce, and some fresh NC shrimp, at various locations in Edgecomb County for about eight years.  Some he grows in his home garden, and some he buys from other farmers to sell three days a week at the Tarboro Farmer’s Market, the weekly Down East Partnership for Children Farmer’s Market Day, and the monthly Heritage Hospital Farmer’s Market Day. But those only happen from April to November. Selling locally produced food year-round in North Carolina without indoor space is a challenge.  Aaron has a building on his property that, with some work, could store jams, jellies, honey, peanuts, and a refrigerator for winter produce like collards, kale, turnips & sweet potatoes. And that would provide him with locally grown food to sell year round.

We met Aaron the first night we visited Tarboro in June 2011, and he spoke to us about his desire to expand his business. When his loan application for funds to renovate that building arrived a few months later, we were able to connect him with a lender in the Rocky Mount area. He needed money to upgrade wiring, add heat, insulation and plenty of shelving, and do some advertising. And he got it.

Those of us who want to eat locally as much as we can, and not just in the summer, appreciate Aaron’s commitment to increasing our access to good, local food through the winter months.  The 2011 Tarboro Farmer’s Markets are over, but you can still find Aaron at 1209 East Northern Blvd., Tarboro, NC.  Call and schedule a time go by and say hi, (252-823-4080) buy something local, and tell him the folks at Slow Money NC send their fond regards.

A Butcher Shop in Tarboro

Crystal and James Bullock, both third generation farmers, had been working to get a butcher shop going for two years, purchasing on credit, and accumulating debt in a variety of places.  What they really needed was a way to consolidate all their various creditors into one affordable loan. But, how?  They put the solution in the hands of God, hunkered down and kept working.  They found a great space a few miles west of downtown Tarboro that would do perfectly for the butcher shop with plenty of room for shelves of local pickles, jams and chow chow, and they named it the Blazen Cattle Company.  Now they just needed funds.

On July 23rd, 2011, Crystal and James got their miracle. A friend invited them to a talk about their business at a Slow Money NC Gathering where they met a physician from Rocky Mount. She who “fed up with Wall Street” and looking instead for ways to support her local economy.  It was an easy bond, and she loaned them enough to consolidate that debt. They have been filling the shelves and coolers of their farm market and butcher shop ever since. If you’re ever East of Raleigh, make sure you stop by. The thick cut bacon alone is worth the trip.

Gluten-free Bakery in Pittsboro

Abigail Wilson comes from a long line of Chathamites.  Her father, or grandfather, has probably served as the dentist to a large percentage of our eater’s teeth.

When she came back to Pittsboro after completing her degree at the University of North Carolina, she decided to open a gluten free bakery. Abi writes,  “Accessibility to food drives the creation of this business. Just because a simple allergy eliminates wheat from your diet doesn’t mean you should never have a brownie again! Instead of focusing on the restrictions imposed by allergens, Abilicious Bakery celebrates healthier available options.” Abi arranged to move in with the people of the Center for Natural Medicine  in downtown Pittsboro, which already had a commercial kitchen available.

Abi had the plan.  And the kitchen lined up.  What she needed was some patient capital.  Carol introduced her to a potential lender in the cafe of Chatham Marketplace.  Abi brought heart shaped gluten free cookies.  She left with a check to cover the cost of an industrial oven and launch her business. Two weeks later, a second investor loaned her enough to purchase a used Hobart mixer. She got busy filling orders, selling at local Farmer’s Markets and built an appreciative, very loyal following.

[2012 update – Abi closed her business at the end of 2011, and made her own Slow Money loan to another baker for the purchase of her oven. She is moving on, to another part of the state, has recently married, and we wish her all the best. Luckily for her customers, Angelina will still be making several of her products and offering them in her Pittsboro restaurant, Angelina’s Kitchen.]

A Cheese Shop in Durham

Patrick Coleff was the creator of the Reliable Cheese Company in downtown Durham, the one and only place in the Triangle to get the level of service and quality one would expect from a Paris fromagerie.  Patrick wrote in his Slow Money application, “Our nationally celebrated food scene has been calling out for a cheese shop of this level and, until now, no one has adequately answered that call. We believe our shop will become a destination, drawing people interested in good food from all around the triangle. Our customers are people who are no longer simply be satisfied by a cheese that is free from hormones or “all natural”.  They want one that is produced using traditional methods (some dating back thousands of years), from the milk of well cared for animals, and shaped by the hands of real people, not machines.”  The shop offered easy access and parking, his cheeses were extraordinary, and his selection of local cheeses is unsurpassed. He raised a bunch of money for this project, with the last push coming from a couple of Slow Money lenders.

[Update: Sadly, Reliable Cheese’s retail location closed in October, 2012, but Patrick continue being a part of our local food scene. We have a feeling we’ll be hearing a lot more from him in the future.]

A Vegan Bakery in Chapel Hill

Stephanie Perry and her team started Sweeties Vegan Eats and Treats, a bakery and catering service in the Chapel Hill area specializing in vegan, Southern style soul food.  Their first, and very delicious, creation was a Vegan Apple Cider Donut featuring regional ingredients and marketed through local restaurants and private orders.  The donuts have been sold at the Coffee Barn at the twice annual Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance in Silk Hope, NC and are always a  big hit.  Stephanie, and her partners, Damita and Kim, are working hard on various new recipes, and on building up their customer base. Watch for them at a local  farmers’ market, or contact them directly. Their Slow Money loan (now paid in full) covered the cost of insurance and a few start-up supplies.

A Greek Restaurant comes to Pittsboro

Our second loan went to Angelina, of Angelina’s Kitchen, a wonderful Greek restaurant in Pittsboro, NC.  Angelina got her start in the area as a caterer and we were all soon asking, more like begging, for her to open her own restaurant. When a spot opened up a few blocks west of the courthouse she moved in and offered take-out, and catering services.

When the space next door also became available, with the help of her husband, John, they expanded and added a seating area. They initially funded the project with credit card debt, until 2 friends made them Slow Money loans instead. Those loans are now paid in full and that debt is behind them. That’s something Angelina and John would hardly have been able to accomplish otherwise!

I am not sure which makes Angelina happier, making and serving delicious, healthy Greek food to loyal and grateful customers, or using fresh, local ingredients purchased from her area’s sustainable farmers to do so. Either way, we all win.  She is often a farmer’s last stop on their way home from the farmer’s market, and she is happy to take what didn’t sell and turn it into the daily special. The Slow Money project was pleased to help Angelina find lenders to make low-interest loans that meant this exciting expansion was a bit easier to do. Because strengthening farm-to-kitchen relationships makes for a more resilient food shed, and that’s our goal. Indoor seating also means more time spent listening to the happy sounds emanating from Angelina’s kitchen, and more time with friends eating deliciously prepared local foods. Angelina’s enthusiasm, her zest for life, and for good food, are contagious. For location and hours, check out: Angelina’s Kitchen!

Our first loan!

Our first loan went to Lynette Driver, a talented local baker. Lynette produced over a hundred loaves of bread for a local CSA, and received rave reviews. She needed money to buy a massive used Hobart mixer, racks and some other baking gear.  She got her Slow Money loan from one of the founders of Slow Money NC in the spring of 2010, and she paid it off by the spring of 2011, without missing a beat along the way.  We like Lynette. We liked buying, and eating her homemade bread. And we like helping new bakers come to our community.